Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Finish the Chores or Enjoy the Sunshine? Do both!

June is bustin' out all over, to quote Carousel, and, since sunshine and warmth are fairly uncommon in North England, we Brits like to take advantage of good weather whenever possible. 

"Our house looks normal on the outside", said Secundus as our loft conversion began a fortnight ago, "but inside it is tumbledown." He ain't wrong. There are a number of domestic tasks which it is difficult to achieve, or not worth doing, when most surfaces are covered with plaster dust and/ or soot. My solution was to take the housework outside and let the sunshine into what is left of my cleaning routine; here are a few chores that lend themselves well to the outdoors, as long as you don't care what the neighbours think.

1. Washing-up. For this you will need a bucket or bowl of hot water. Add a few squirts of home-made dish soap (recipe here). Trek outside with cutlery and crockery, bucket and dish brush. Set everything down on a hard surface (I used our garden table), start washing, as the sun shines down on the back of your neck, and leave items to drain in the sun.

2. Laundry. In a similar way, you can hand-wash garments outside in a bucket. We also dry all our washing on a line in the garden for the majority of the year. Basically, if it isn't raining, the washing gets hung out. One of my friends doesn't hang her family's "smalls" out for fear of them getting stolen, but we have a different world-view on that. For more easy cleaning, laundry and homemaking tips to make your life easier, check out the Keeping It Clean e-books.

3. Ironing. With an extension cable poking through the kitchen window or back door, you can do your ironing in the sunshine, no problem. It's even quicker if you go straight from clothes line to ironing board. 

4. Sewing. Set up your sewing machine on a table outside, hook up to the mains and get sewing and sunshine all in one go. This is great if you have a project on the go, or some mending to do, but you also want to be outdoors. Same goes for hand-sewing, crochet and knitting.

5. Heating water. Hot water is useful for many household tasks, but step away from the kettle! On a hot, sunny day, you can harness solar power to heat up containers of water for free. Paint clean plastic milk containers black, fill them with water, and set them in the sun. This and solar cooking is something I have yet to try, partly due to our unreliable weather; I read about them in Making It (Coyne and Knutzen).

6. Making herbal concoctions such as hair rinses and cleaning sprays. An ideal job to do outside, especially if you have a tendency to spill vinegar; you can go straight from harvesting to bottling with several recipes (more about that here). Grating soap for home made laundry powder is also less mind-numbing this way. 

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